Every year, Girl Scouts/Girl Guides from 146 countries celebrate World Thinking Day, a time to reflect on the history of scouting and celebrate the friendships and accomplishments of girls and women around the globe.
This year, the world-wide theme was Connect, and my local service unit (a group of troops in the same geographic area) chose to celebrate connections through children’s books.
Each troop created displays. games, skits, snacks – all sorts of fun – themed around a favorite book. There were field trips to libraries, days spent researching recipes, and outreach projects created based on the books. Then, on February 27th, we came together to share what we’d learned.
We saw Brownies do a line-dance inspired by Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance and ate pink cupcakes with Pinkalicious. We tried chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and came home with little bags of seeds to plant, inspired by Eve Bunting’s Sunflower House.
The troop who featured Pete the Cat also taught everyone to make cat toys from household items – and donate them to pet shelters.
And we did NOT let the Pigeon drive the bus.
My troop of 1st-grade Daisies spent several weeks reading and learning about the amazing women highlighted in MY NAME IS NOT ISABELLA by Jenifer Fosberry, illustrated by Mike Litwin.
If you’re not familiar, the adorably purple-haired Isabella spends the pages of her books (yup, there are sequels – or maybe “companion titles” is a better word. They certainly can stand alone) dreaming of all the people she could be (and later, places she could go.) Well-researched back matter fills readers in on the details of Isabella’s idols – from Sally Ride to Rosa Parks. Isabella’s tagline, “Just how big can a little girl dream?” makes for an excellent conversation-starter.
In one Daisy meeting, we let the girls play dress-up with photos of themselves and the accessories featured in the book: like Marie Curie’s beaker and Annie Oakley’s western hat. Want to do the same? Feel free to use the (highly amateur) paper-doll-style printable I made for the troop meeting.
Later, we researched famous former Girl Scouts and imagined ourselves in their shoes. This was a great way to combine the book theme and scouting theme – and we ended up featuring some of our favorite Girl Scout role models on our presentation board for Thinking Day. Girls had a wonderful time discovering that Taylor Swift, Sandra Day O’Connor, Venus Williams, and even Queen Elizabeth II grew up in scouting!
Finally, we made special name badges – encouraging girls to follow in Isabella’s footsteps by imagining not their own name, but the name of ANYONE or ANYTHING they dreamed of being. (Just a word of warning, you will get a few “Unicorn Kitty” and “Invisible Puppy” answers alongside the “Doctors” and “Artists.”)
One special moment for me was when, after I shared a picture from an Isabella-themed troop meeting on Twitter, I was contacted by the author, Jennifer Fosberry (@jenfos on Twitter.) Turns out, SHE was a Girl Scout, too – and is a Girl Scout leader now! My Daisies were so excited about this special connection.
Overall, MY NAME IS NOT ISABELLA gave us countless opportunities to discuss and explore the possibilities for girls. We had so much fun and learned a lot! And I’d love to hear about your favorite books for inspiring young people to dream big. Comment, follow, and share – and keep on #RaisingReaders!